Review of China Southern flight Hefei Guangzhou in Business

Airline China Southern
Flight CZ3816
Class Business
Seat 1K
Aircraft Boeing 737-700
Flight time 02:11
Take-off 02 Jan 24, 07:03
Arrival at 02 Jan 24, 09:14
CZ 137 reviews
YGeorgeW
By GOLD 361
Published on 9th June 2024

return to asia


After staying with family for just over a week, I was headed to the next part of my vacation–a few days in Bangkok.  To get there, I booked a cash fare via Capital One Travel.  Normally I recommend against using travel portals, but Capital One had a fantastic fare sale where flights to Bangkok were $200 off.  The best part was, it didn't matter where you originated, so starting in Hefei was fine.  Moreover, if the fare was less than $200, it was just flat out free.  So I originally booked a truly free plane ticket in economy HFE-CAN-BKK.  People always talk about points/miles travel as "free" but there is a decent opportunity cost there at the very least.  This was truly a free ticket.  Later, because the fares were reasonable, I upgraded to business on both legs.


Routing


hefei xinqiao international airport


I meant to get to HFE a little over an hour before departure, but ended up arriving quite a bit earlier than expected because there's no traffic at 5:00am–somehow I forgot about that little detail.

As with many Chinese terminals, it's a massive affair despite HFE not being a particularly busy airport.


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It took me a while to find the business class check in for China Southern–the signage isn't that great.  There's a nice little roped off area with red carpet, but it wasn't clearly labelled as China Southern.


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I was quickly checked in and directed to use the VIP security at gate 17 and to use the "first class" lounge.  Security was a breeze–literally no one else there.  I quickly found "First Class Lounge No. 1"–standard Chinese lounge naming.  As with most Chinese lounges, definitely keep your expectations low.


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hefei first class lounge no. 1


I was checked in quickly and welcomed to the lounge.  It was a massive affair (and completely empty).  There was lots of seating, but not much in terms of other amenities.  You can see in the last picture below there are some massage chairs.



At the end of the lounge is a dining area, by the looks of it later there is a small buffet.



You can look out over the gates adjacent to the lounge.


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The food options were normal for a Chinese lounge, a bunch of snacks, instant noodles, and various non-alcoholic beverages.  There was also loose-leaf tea.



I opted for Huangshan Maofeng, which is what I usually drink at home and one of the premier teas of Anhui province.


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I grabbed a bottle of water and a couple of snacks as well.


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cz3816


Boarding began early at 6:32am (scheduled for 6:40am) with business class passengers and elite status holders.  My ride to Guangzhou would be on B-5275, a 12-years old 737-700.

China Southern has a very peculiar configuration on its 737-700s: just a single row of business, making for a very small business class cabin.  I would be the only passenger up front this morning.  I was originally in one of the aisle seats (because trying to figure out seat selection was a pain), but the FAs suggested I take a window seat–will do!


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The seats aren't all that fancy, but there was both a power outlet and USB charging available, as well a small pullout area for drinks in addition to the tray table.



Every seat had a pair of slippers and a bottle of water waiting in the pocket in front.


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I was quickly welcomed on board by one of the FAs.  She introduced herself as Xiao Lian and opened a package of slippers and set them by my feet.  The slippers were reasonably comfortable, especially for such a short flight.


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She quickly took my coat and brought me a hot towel before taking my order for PDBs.


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I opted for a glass of orange juice.  Xiao Lian also took my order for breakfast before pushing back.  I had a choice of beef stir-fried noodles or dim sum with porridge.  She was very specific about the timing of breakfast service and asked if she could wake me if I fell asleep, which would be 20 minutes after scheduled takeoff (i.e, at 7:40am).  She also asked if I prefer my tea light or strong–great question and attention detail and probably unique to Chinese airlines given the heavy tea-drinking culture!  For example, I tend to prefer my tea quite strong whereas my late grandmother preferred her tea much lighter.


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Boarding went quickly because it was a fairly empty flight.  In fact, at 6:50am, the purser made an announcement asking if anyone wanted to upgrade for cost–no one took her up on it.  Cabin doors closed at 7am sharp.

We were parked to B-1610, a China Eastern A320.  I could be wrong, but I think China Eastern is the largest airline for HFE.


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Most Chinese airlines have these fold-down IFE screens on their domestic jets.  They are used both to play the safety video and pre-set inflight entertainment.


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We pushed back at 7:03am, 7 minutes early.  Here's a look at the hazy Hefei Airport in the morning:


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I have no idea what the W livery is.

We took off at 7:13am.


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As promised, at exactly 7:40am, service began with a hot towel.  Xiao Lian also offered to bring me the beef stir-fried noodles as well.  I politely declined–not trying to gorge myself on reheated China Southern breakfast at 7am.


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Breakfast began with a cup of green tea and a small plate of nuts.


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Here's the dim sum: the porridge was really water, the dim sum a little rubbery, and the fruit a bit bland.  It was passable though and I hadn't had breakfast yet.


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I checked out the lavatory after breakfast: fairly typical.


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Three was a "fragrance spray" and alcohol wipes, which is a bit more than what you usually find on US airlines.  I did not try the spray.


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I opened the IFE (which folds out from the center armrest), but didn't watch much on it.  Like most Chinese airlines, there is a limited selection.


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China Southern does offer headphones if you want, I didn't bother opening this.


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Instead, I took a nap given how early it still was (and lights were turned off in the cabin).  The provided blanket was reasonably comfortable–definitely a step above the scratchy domestic blankets I'm used to on United.


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I woke up after about 30-40 minutes and peered outside.  The windows could use some cleaning.  Lights came on about 40 minutes before landing in preparation for the descent.


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I asked for another cup of tea:


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It was a relatively short flight and soon we were approaching Guangzhou.


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Quite a lot of construction on the outskirts of the Guangzhou airport:


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We landed at 9am and reached our gate at 9:14am–11 minutes early.


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Verdict

China Southern

6.3/10
Cabin7.0
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi5.0
Meal/catering5.0

First Class Lounge 1

4.3/10
Comfort4.0
Meal/catering3.0
Entertainment/wifi5.0
Services5.0

Hefei - HFE

6.9/10
Efficiency8.5
Access5.0
Services5.0
Cleanliness9.0

Guangzhou - CAN

7.9/10
Efficiency7.5
Access7.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness9.0

Conclusion

Lounge: There's not much to speak of--like a lot of Chinese lounges at less connected airports, there was plenty of space and not much else. At least there was hot tea available (and not tea bags).

Cabin & Seat: I liked the single row of business as it made for an intimate cabin, especially when I was the sole business class passenger. The seats were nothing special: controls were a bit clunky, but had the usual bells and whistles for a recliner sat. The IFE was very dated and had limited selection, but at least there was a personal IFE screen. I didn't have high expectations, these seats were about what I expected

Service: For a regional business class flight, I was reasonably impressed by the service. Every few years I take the plunge and try a domestic Chinese airline and come away thinking maybe I should try them for a long-haul flight. The issue is rarely are they the best option if I'm not looking for a direct route to China (and even). On this flight, Xiao Lian was attentive, friendly, and efficient. You can tell a lot of the service was scripted, but just following a good script and paying attention to deal is worth some praise.

Meal & Catering: The catering wasn't impressive, even for a short domestic hop. Given how cheap food is in China, it wouldn't take much to improve this a bit.

Bottom Line: There used to be some direct HFE-BKK seasonal flights, but none were available when I booked (perhaps as a casualty of the pandemic). China Southern offered the most convenient times and schedules for my needs. I wouldn't hesitate to fly them for domestic or regional flights again.

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1 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 653230 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 6858 Comments
    Hey George, great report as always! Kinda cool to have such a small J cabin---very intimate, and it looks very spacious with lots of legroom. Nice to have IFE on a narrowbody, pretty rare in China.

    Thanks for sharing!

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